Tuesday, June 01, 2004
'House-Bound Man' tells truth about liver, parenting Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad, by David Eddie, Riverhead Books, 2003, $14.
Don't even consider being a parent if you want to succeed as a writer. David Eddie held tight to this mantra as he set about finding a place for his prose. But, before he could say Pulitzer Prize, his child was on the way. How did Eddie cope with the complication in his master plan? He wrote a book about it, of course.
Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad is Eddie's fearless memoir of a brilliant predicament. With his wife invested in a more financially stable position, his self-employed flexibility left him with the mighty role of househusband. Eddie eagerly delved into the day-to-day duties of diaper changing, bottle heating and stroller pushing. And, somehow, he found time to put his fatherly adventures down on paper.
"I had to be a lousy househusband and bad dad in order to write it," Eddie confesses. It's this plainspoken approach that keeps the book from turning into another diary of a zany dad navigating his way through the minefield of parenthood.
That's not to say there isn't plenty of Mr. Mom fun going on here. Eddie, for example, writes about taking on a superhero persona when behind the wheel of a baby carriage. "House-Bound Man," as he refers to his alter-ego, is keenly able to avert his son's tantrums, detect the temperament of approaching dogs and perform a quick diaper change.
It's original stuff. Even better, it's wrapped in a more interesting, entertaining context. The book is really about Eddie's gradual transformation from rudderless bachelor to caring and comical dad who has come to understand the important-and ridiculous-things in life.
We get to know Eddie before he meets the woman of his dreams and surrenders to the idea of having children. He takes us into the delivery room, but also talks of his father's prostate cancer. He rants about the idiocy of tourism, the logic of airline policies and the assembly-line insanity of America's food courts. He shares his insecurities and the simple lessons learned. Rather than simply tell us, he shows us, and keeps us laughing at every turn.
"People tell you parenthood is great," Eddie writes. "But then people say all kinds of crazy things, like Buffalo is a nice place to visit, accounting is actually interesting profession and liver is delicious if prepared a certain way." Dave Whitaker
Keeping your child safe, happy in organized sports Your Kids & Sports: Everything You Need To Know From Grade School To College, by Michael Koehler, Sorin Books, 2004, $14.95.
At one time, kids willingly signed up for and participated in sports that offered something beyond the opportunity to become the next Tiger Woods golf star or the next Serena Williams tennis champ. At one time, there were sports specifically designed to enhance a child's enjoyment of life.
Once upon a time, fulfillment in youth sports came from fun, not winning.
Times have changed, and drastically.
It's imperative now that parents follow a basic outline to have their child experience sports in a healthy and productive environment. Michael Koehler's book gives parents a sense of direction when confronted with today's highly competitive youth sports culture.
What a lot of today's cut-throat coaches and pushy parents fail to recognize is that kids can learn valuable life lessons not only from the thrill of victory, but also from the bitter taste of defeat. Koehler's straightforward writing and scope of topics (he even addresses drug use and injuries), helps parents identify the unconstructive elements stalking the youth sports scene.
Koehler delves into everything poignant about youth sports, including the philosophical reasoning behind athletics, choosing the right sport and avoiding burnout or stress.
This book offers advice to parents from Little League right through college athletics. Meshed with interviews from former college athletes and articles culled from major newspapers, Koehler paints a vivid picture of the highs and lows of collegiate athletics. Without preaching, the author provides statistics and examples to prove that lofty expectations can lead to disappointment, for the prospect and the parents.
"[High School blue chippers]-soon learn that the world of college athletics is populated by extraordinarily gifted young men and women," writes Koehler before acknowledging a few pages later that those athletes only minimally recruited aren't always lost in the shuffle. He cites former Joliet Catholic High School running back Mike Alstott, who was only mildly recruited by major colleges before going on to Purdue University and eventually into the NFL, where he helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win a Super Bowl. Brad Spencer
How dads can navigate the world of their girls Dads & Daughters: How to Inspire, Understand, and Support Your Daughter When She's Growing Up So Fast, by Joe Kelly, Broadway Books, 2002, $23.95.
Did you know that girls tend to choose life partners who treat them the way their dads did?
If this gives you pause, then we recommend Joe Kelly's Dads & Daughters: How to Inspire, Understand, and Support Your Daughter. This well-written, easy-to-read book is a primer for men who are ready to take the next step in becoming the best fathers they can be.
How do you handle her obsession with her looks, for instance? Kelly explores the impact of gender differences on father-daughter relationships. He's worried about the intense, all-pervasive media pressure that seduces girls into focusing on exterior perfection. He stresses the importance of supporting your girl in developing the inner power that is her true beauty. Guess who he holds up as an example? Madeleine Albright, who had the courage and sense of humor to appear on "Saturday Night Live."
Quoting frequently from his own experience as a dad, as well as from interviews with other fathers, Kelly's book includes chapters on communicating about drugs and alcohol, dealing with her dates without a shotgun, supporting her as she builds a future and sustaining a physical relationship in the face of the "touch taboo" between men and girls.
You may be surprised to learn of his insistence that going outside and throwing a ball around is just as important with your daughter as with your son. At the conclusion of each chapter is a set of tools for practical use.
While their wives may derive much-needed support through the difficulties of child-rearing from other mothers, men still have a long way to go when it comes to talking to each other. Kelly urges guys to have the guts to open up to each other about their feelings and experiences as fathers. He also demands they devote time and energy to serving as advocates for girls in a world that still favors their brothers in the classroom, at work and in leadership roles.
And he offers support for "live-away" dads, who may actually find themselves at an advantage in creating focused, personal time with the girls they miss so badly and love so much. Kristin Gehring